Price of poultry products has gone down not only in affected states, but also in other states.

 

New Delhi: Amid the Covid situation, yet another outbreak has hit the country. The Union Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, and Dairies informed that avian influenza or bird flu has been confirmed in 10 states, including Maharashtra, to date. Several states have initiated the culling process of infected birds to contain the spread of the disease. This outbreak has led to a massive blow to the poultry business across the country. In Bihar, chicken sales have dipped by 50-75% across the state. On Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal directed officials to withdraw the restriction on the sale and import of chicken stocks after all samples taken from the poultry markets tested negative for bird flu. The Chief Minister also said that the poultry markets will reopen.

The state’s civic body on Wednesday had banned the sale and storage of poultry or processed chicken meat by shops and restaurants and warned these establishments of strict action, including cancellation of their license. Delhi’s Animal Husbandary unit has confirmed that none of the poultry samples sent from the city, including the chicken market in Ghazipur, had bird flu.

Despite Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh confirming “there has been no case of human transmission”, the poultry farmers are reporting massive losses. The price of poultry products has gone down not only in affected states but also in other states. According to reports, the poultry sector of the country is worth Rs 80,000 crore. Several poultry shop owners said that the bird flu has made their recovery from the Covid impact difficult.

Meanwhile, FreshToHome, an online market of poultry products, has claimed that their sales have been “unaffected” due to the bird flu crisis.  Shan Kadavil, CEO & Co-Founder at FreshToHome, told The Sunday Guardian: “We have seen that platforms like ours which offer certified bio-fenced poultry or other meats have not been affected by the bird flu news as our consumers understand that commercially grown poultry in bio-secure facilities that do not come in contact with the migratory birds are safe and secure. Also, our consumers have experienced bird flu-related news at least twice in the last 12 months, including a case of false rumour last year in February, and due to the fact that we have traceability of our source down to bio-secure farms, we have not seen any impact on our chicken sales. We have continued to message safety measures on our site including the relevant certifications that we have done which are downloadable for all our consumers. Consumers understand and trust the brand for providing them the security and safety in the case of food.”

Kadavil also said this will not be a “long-term phenomenon”. “We are monitoring the situation closely and working with government bodies such as at the CPDO. We don’t anticipate this to be a long-term phenomenon. The bird flu source focal point is migratory birds and the primary reports were related to H5N8 infection in wild geese and ducks. The government follows strict protocol with ‘stamping’, so even if the chicken is not infected, any birds domestic or otherwise is culled within 1 km of a focal point, whether there is an infection or not. So as a precautionary measure, some steps were taken, but this does not have a long-term impact,” Kadavil said.

Meanwhile, several consumers told The Sunday Guardian that they are fearing another “Covid-like situation” and don’t want to take any risk.

Rajeev Bhatt, a resident of Dwarka Sector-6, told The Sunday Guardian: “Covid originated from bats. Everything started because some people ate bats and the whole world had to suffer. We suffered way too much last year and we are still suffering. We are scared and don’t want a similar thing to happen again. Eating meat is not important and I am not buying meat and egg till I feel it is safe. Nobody can guarantee anything.” Another consumer, Mukesh Chatterjee, told The Sunday Guardian that he is not even ready to trust online meat sellers. “People say online sellers like Big Basket and Licious are safe, but who knows? I am will not buy meat and other poultry products at least for a month or two,” Chatterjee said.